Back-to-back homers deliver Jefferson baseball to state for first time since 1998

Class 4A substate baseball: Tyler Roeder blasted a three-run home run, while pitcher Spencer Van Scoyoc added a solo shot and struck out five in 4-1 victory over Kennedy

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Tyler Roeder has been taught his entire life that when at the plate, look for pitches middle away.

Once the Cedar Rapids Jefferson senior found what he was looking for, he promptly deposited said pitch over the center field fence.

The fifth-inning blast scored three runs and helped deliver the J-Hawks to the Class 4A baseball state tournament for the first time since 1998 with a 4-1 victory over Cedar Rapids Kennedy in a substate final Wednesday night at Lower Kingston.

“Ever since we were all nine years old we’ve been playing with each other,” Roeder said. “West side’s always been the blue-collar side and we fight for everything and just like that, that was a dogfight. We fought that game and it came in our favor.”

Jefferson (28-11) earned a seven seed in the state tournament, which begins July 27 with a quarterfinal against Mississippi Valley Conference champion Iowa City West (33-6) at Principal Park in Des Moines. The Trojans swept the J-Hawks during a May 31 doubleheader.

“Now the gorilla’s off the back,” Jefferson Coach Kyle Rodenkirk said. “I’m real proud of this group, all the adversity that they’ve went through and this win tonight is as much for them, but it’s also for the alumni, including myself, for 18 years of not getting there.”

Jefferson star Spencer Van Scoyoc – who was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 19th round of the Major League Baseball draft last month – followed up Roeder’s homer with a solo shot that gave himself a 4-0 cushion on the mound.

Van Scoyoc – who elected to report to Arizona State in the fall instead of signing a pro contract – gave up a hit in five scoreless innings, struck out five and improved to 4-1 this season.

“You always get butterflies before big games like this,” Van Scoyoc said. “I had great defense behind me and it really helped out tonight because I really needed it.”

The senior hit a batter and walked six, including two to begin the sixth inning that prompted Rodenkirk to bring in younger brother Connor Van Scoyoc from the bullpen. Connor Van Scoyoc retired the next six batters, four via strikeout, to clinch the state berth for the J-Hawks.

Opposing pitcher Anthony Alepra surrendered a hit and two runs for Kennedy, which ends at 29-14.

“I’m proud of them,” Kennedy Coach Bret Hoyer said. “They represented Kennedy baseball and (the late) Coach (Bill) Herkelman all year long. Loved them, I’m going to miss them and I’m proud to be their coach.”

l Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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